Ronald Koeman says Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines “live for Everton” and will be “key players” in the Club’s future.
Captain Jagielka and deputy skipper Baines both joined the Blues in summer 2007 and on Tuesday night were feted at a Goodison Park event celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Goodison arrivals.
The duo were key figures under Koeman’s two immediate predecessors as boss, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez, and the Dutchman has similarly installed Baines and Jagielka as cornerstones of his team.
Left-back Baines started 32 Premier League matches last season, Koeman’s first at the helm – and would conceivably have been ever present without the hamstring injury that sidelined him for six matches early in the campaign.
He has featured in all of the Toffees’ top-flight and European matches this term, while 35-year-old Jagielka had played all but one of this season’s league games before missing the recent meetings with Bournemouth and Burnley due to his own hamstring complaint.
And Koeman, who also selected Jagielka for 25 Premier League fixtures last season, insists former Wigan player Baines, and Jagielka, who joined Everton from Sheffield United, represent exactly the type of committed characters he wants in his dressing room.
Asked by evertontv about the experience of working with the England international pair, Koeman said: “It is really good. They are great people, really involved in Everton.
“Ten years is a long time, they have been really key players in the past… and will be in the future of Everton.
“Phil is the captain and Leighton is the second captain. They live for Everton and they play for Everton with all their heart. That is really important for the Club.”
Jagielka and Baines appeared on stage in Goodison’s Alex Young Suite to discuss their decade with the Club in front of an audience of invited Evertonians, all of whom purchased their first season tickets to watch the Blues in the year the two England internationals moved to Merseyside.
Everton FA Cup-winning pair Graham Stuart and Barry Horne spoke glowingly about Jagielka and Baines's substantial and enduring on and off-pitch contributions to the Club, while some of the duo’s current teammates paid their own tributes.
A congratulatory video recorded by Seamus Coleman, who signed for the Toffees two-and-a-half years after his fellow defenders, was screened at the event.
So, too, was a message from summer signing Michael Keane, who echoed Koeman’s view that Jagielka and Baines are “great people”, as well as labelling central defensive partner Jagielka an “inspiration”.